Couilloud wins battle of brothers

Baptiste Couilloud shone in a brotherly battle with a hat-trick to boost his France hopes this autumn.

Baptiste Couilloud shone in a brotherly battle with a hat-trick to boost his France hopes this autumn.

The Lyon scrum-half was going up against younger brother Barnabé, and certainly got the better of the individual battle as Couilloud crossed three times in a 40-5 success.

And while Antoine Dupont is the unquestioned first choice scrum-half for Les Bleus, Couilloud will hope to be his back-up this November with Baptiste Serin still out injured.

Lyon are up to the third in the Top 14, but leaders Toulouse continue to be the class of the field as they overcame a poor first half to beat Pau 38-10 with their French internationals to the fore.

Anthony Jelonch, who captained France on their summer tour of Australia, scored two tries with Cyril Baille getting another and Romain Ntamack kicking 13 points.

Lions are back

Elsewhere returning British & Irish Lions enjoyed fine outings in England on an entertaining weekend of domestic action.

England No.8 Sam Simmonds and Wales winger Louis Rees-Zammit both scored doubles for Exeter Chiefs and Gloucester respectively, while Marcus Smith shone off the bench for English champions Harlequins.

And with the Autumn Nations Series now less than a month away, it was the perfect opportunity for players to state their cases for international recognition.

The action kicked off on Friday night with a rematch of Harlequins’ spectacular semi-final comeback against Bristol Bears last season.

That day they trailed 28-0, while on Friday night the score was 21-0 to the Bears as Smith entered the fray for the first time this season. Fresh from his Lions experience and England debut in the summer, the fly-half pulled the strings in another stunning turnaround as Quins scored 45 unanswered points in a 52-24 victory, with the fly-half scoring 17 points including a fine solo try from a chip over the defence that collected to score.

His fellow Lions tourist Simmonds was similarly influential the following day, powering over from close range for his first try before showing his burst for his second as Exeter Chiefs powered past Worcester Warriors 42-5 at Sandy Park.

And staying in the south west, it was Wales flyer Rees-Zammit who matched Simmonds with a double as Gloucester held on for a dramatic 33-32 win over Sale Sharks.

Trio of Irish provinces stay unbeaten

Leinster, Munster and Ulster all remain unbeaten in the competition, with Adam Byrne marking his long-awaited return for the former with two tries in a big win over Zebre in which Jordan Larmour and Ronan Kelleher also crossed.

Ulster were turning to some of their young stars as they took on Benetton and for the second week running Ireland Under-20s scrum-half Nathan Doak impressed, scoring two tries and finishing with 18 points in all in a 28-8 success.